Tiny Miracles, Big Futures: Sinai Hospital Debuts New, Innovative Newborn Care Center, including renovated Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

The Herman & Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai Holds Online Ceremony to Celebrate a New Era of Care for Infants and Their Families

Baltimore, MD – The Herman & Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai today debuts its brand-new Newborn Care Center, a state-of-the-art, family-centered unit offering innovative and  nurturing care for premature infants with the most critical needs as well as for full-term babies. Designed with the latest hybrid approach to promote optimal infant care and family support, the new center includes 21 beds in the renovated and expanded Jennifer Gandel Kachura Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and a six-bed Well-Baby Nursery. The hospital will hold a virtual celebration on Thursday, February 11 that will feature video tours, patient and family stories, and then-and-now photos of NICU graduates. 

“We are thrilled that our vision to create the most advanced, modern, neonatal intensive care unit and Well-Baby Nursery is now a reality. Seeing the plans on paper turn into such a beautiful and nurturing space is amazing,” says Daniel Blum, president of Sinai Hospital and Grace Medical Center, and senior vice president of LifeBridge Health. “Our leaders and our team members discussed what would work best for the infants, families and our caregivers, and we are excited to see how the Newborn Care Center will benefit them. Our NICU Parents Council provided invaluable feedback and support that helped to shape this most family-friendly design.” 

The renovated NICU is 12,000 square feet will now have new patient rooms, the most up-to-date equipment, areas for advanced care and monitoring, as  well as a NICU parents’ lounge. 

Previously, all incubators and bassinettes in the NICU were in two large rooms. In the new space, there are 15 private “bays,” which are actually large rooms without doors. The bays were designed that way so families could have more privacy, but still be part of a community.

“Research shows that babies benefit from the stimulation that an open bay room provides, but they also need privacy to recover during crucial times. That’s why Sinai Hospital is using the new hybrid method that gives NICU infants both the stimulation and privacy they need to thrive,” says Dr. Thomas O’Brien, medical director of the Ellen W.P. Wasserman Division of Newborn Medicine. “Family   members often stay by their babies’ sides for days, weeks or even months in the NICU, and it’s vital that they also have privacy while still being able to see the clinicians who can offer support and guidance.” 

The other six NICU bassinettes are in “family rooms” where parents can stay overnight with their babies. There are three single family rooms, one twin family room and one room where parents can spend their last night in the NICU, “practicing” for what they will do at home while still having the staff there to support them.

These family rooms are just one aspect of Sinai’s family-centered approach to the design of the Newborn Care Center. A family lounge features a relaxing seating area, a counter height workspace where laptops can be used, a television, coffeemaker, microwave, ice machine, and Mason’s Library, filled with books for siblings to enjoy and parents to read to their children. 

Sinai’s NICU team cares for nearly 200 babies each year, and nearly 2,000 babies are born at Sinai every year. 

Caring for the infants born early is only one facet of the Newborn Care Center. Babies born full-term or nearly full-term who have no acute medical problems may spend time in the Well-Baby Nursery. There, the infants receive attention while their mothers receive care or have the opportunity to rest. Center nurses also prepare parents for discharge with support and education on lactation and infant care to ensure they feel confident when they go home. 
The Jennifer Gandel Kachura NICU is award-winning, earning recognition from the Vermont Oxford Network in 2019 as a Center of Excellence in Education and Training for Infants and Families  Affected by Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. In addition, the NICU received the Minogue Award in 2018 from the Maryland Patient Safety Center. Sinai’s neonatologists and RNs have also been recognized as “Best in Baltimore” by Baltimore magazine and our lactation consultant was recognized as a “Baltimore’s Healthcare Hero” by The Daily Record in 2019.

About LifeBridge Health
Sinai Hospital is part of LifeBridge Health, one of the largest, most comprehensive providers of health services in Maryland. In addition to Sinai Hospital, LifeBridge Health includes  Northwest Hospital, Carroll Hospital, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, Grace Medical Center and related affiliates. For more information, visit www.lifebridgehealth.org.

Helene King